Lest We Forget? by Char March

This quiet graveyard is now eulogised
as ‘wildflower-friendly’:  Eggs-And-Bacon
thread through Ladies’ Bedstraw and Self-Heal.

The Norman porch displays a list
of the ninety-two lichen taxa
Found by the enthusiastic British Lichen Society

including the rare Porpidia soredizoides.

We stroll through knee-high Yorkshire Fog
and Sweet Vernal Grass mouthing
the graves’ names, their ages.

Turn a verdant corner and
come upon them:  scoured,
buzz-cut, rawly new.

Do they want this regimented scrubbing?

This forever standing to attention:
Why not let this 19 year old, this 22 year old,

this Private, this Lieutenant develop a skin
of lichen, a suit of moss, a softening
of bird-splatter?

Do they want their grasses and wildflowers
shaved to within a millimetre of their soil?
Does this six-monthly assault with electric sander

comfort them?

Or do they wish to rest, to lie
hammocked in the curve of the earth,
to become one with the bearded graves

that cluster round them, that lean in
like ears, like hands ready to soothe,
while the soldiers stand to attention

in uniforms stiff with bleach.

(Published in Agenda ‘Requiem’ issue in Autumn 2014)